With a 20th-place finish in Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway Brian Vickers, finished the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in twelfth place, but the driver of the #83 Red Bull Toyota remains optimistic for next season.

Before the 2010 season begins, Vickers will travel extensively, including a trip to Las Vegas for the end-of-season awards ceremonies, a Caribbean vacation for Cup champion Jimmie Johnson's fifth wedding anniversary and a possible visit to Asia.

In the final instalment of his Chase Diary, Vickers, who was one of the first to congratulate Johnson in victory lane, talks about the season finale, his prospects for the 2010 season, the fracas between Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya (who wrecked each other during the race) and the magnitude of Johnson's accomplishment.

"As far as the race goes, it obviously wasn't the way we wanted to finish the year. We wanted to go down there and get a win or at least have a good run. Unfortunately, we ended up 20th. There were times when we were better than a 20th-place car, but most of the night, we weren't that good.

"I still look back at the year and say that it's been a great year for us. We accomplished a lot of things and met all our goals, but we wanted to exceed them. We wanted to wrap the year up running well in the Chase, but unfortunately we missed the opportunity to do that, and Miami was our last chance to have a really strong finish to the year. We missed it a little bit. It's not the end of the world. We learned from it. We can get better next year, but it wasn't what we wanted out of the last race.

"I feel there's a lot of potential on the team. I felt a lot of potential on the team throughout the entire year. Hopefully, we can make a charge for the Chase again next season, but we're going to have to learn how to deal with being in the Chase and perform better in the Chase to make a run for the championship. I think that's part of being a new, young team.

"I saw the first (incident between Stewart and Montoya), when they got together and he (Montoya) cut a tyre down, when Tony turned down on him. I didn't see everything that happened or whose fault it was, but it didn't do either one of them any favours. Jimmie proved that you can think about things like that (the cost of aggressive action), and that's why he won the championship. Juan and Tony proved that they didn't think that far ahead, and it didn't work too well for either one of them.

"Being the last race and knowing that neither one of them could win the championship -- even though they would probably lose some spots and some money -- they were probably about at their wits' end and wanted to settle whatever they wanted to settle before the end of the year, make a point, prove a point, whatever it is they wanted to do.

"I don't want to comment too much on what happened, because I don't really know what happened. I just know they got together and they wanted to beat on each other. I'm not going to pretend like I've never done it before. If somebody hits me, I'm going to hit 'em back. I'm going to let them know that it's not acceptable.

"I don't know how it started. I don't know who got wrecked first or got done wrong first, but did they have a right to go back and retaliate? Was it the smartest thing? Maybe. Maybe not. But the biggest issue there is that sometimes you can't tell the bully to stop. Sometimes you've got to pop him right in the nose.

"You've got to be careful how you say this, because some people might take this completely the wrong way, but I've heard somebody say before -- and they have a point, and it's not to be over-exaggerated or misunderstood; it's not given to the whole ethics question -- it's just the point that there is no right or wrong. There's only consequences. What Juan and Tony did wasn't right or wrong. There were just consequences. Right or wrong is all about perspective. There were consequences for both of them. They lost money and they lost spots.

"I was so happy for (Jimmie). He's such a good friend, and that was just such a big deal. Four in a row -- that was huge. He's like a brother to me, and I was super happy for him. That was one of the most historic records in our sport's history. It was just incredible."

As told to Reid Spencer